MANILA – Gilas Pillipinas dropped yet another close game, this time bowing to world No. 3 Argentina, 81-85, late Monday night (Manila time) in the ongoing 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain.
The Philippines moved within a hairline, 81-82, on Jimmy A with still 1:58 left in the game and had a chance to go for a huge upset after a split free throws from Argentina to make it 83-81.
But Jason Castro succumbed to pressure from an Argentine defender and was called for traveling violation with only 12 seconds to go.
Andres Nacioni scored the last two points to hand Argentina its second win in three games.
The Gilas Pilipinas absorbed its third straight loss, hoping to win their two remaining assignments against Puerto Rico (0-2) and Senegal (2-1) to advance in the next round.
The Filipinos lost their first two games against Croatia, 78-81, in overtime and Greece, 70-82.
After a poor shooting performance against Greece, the Filipinos bounced back with Jimmy Alapag hitting 5 of 7 from the three-point area to finish with 15 points while Ranidel De Ocampo added four triples to score 18 markers.
The Philippines opened the game with 4-0 lead on Andre Blatche’s two putbacks and stretched the lead to 17-7 behind Castro who exploded from the big arc.
Argentina cut the lead to 25-22 after the first quarter as coach Chot Reyes benched Blatche due to two personal fouls. Blatche played with right knee injury he acquired against Croatia.
The Argentines finally grabbed the lead at 38-36 and finished the first half with 43-38 margin.
Argentina ballooned the gap at 68-53 but Alapag and De Ocampo led the nationals’ fourth quarter rally to move closer at 69-71.
The Philippines returned to the quadrennial FIBA World Cup, formerly FIBA World Championships, for the first time in four decades.